First there is news that three major Sunni parties have formed a coalition to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections. This is a major step toward integrating the disaffected Sunni minority into the new political system. The article notes that not only Sunnis are forging coalitions.
Read about it here.
[O]ther political parties and personalities continued negotiations aimed at forging other alliances ahead of the Dec. 15 parliamentary election.
Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite, was expected to announce his own coalition of Shiites and Sunnis by the end of this week.
Note that these coalitions are taking form not just within religious blocs, but between them. A democratic polity is in the process of formation and that's an exciting thing to see.
Yassin Musharbash, writing in Der Spiegel, notes signs of progress.
As of Tuesday, Iraq is a democracy. It's not, of course, a stable one yet -- nor is it anchored in the popular imagination. And the constitution's problematic text hides more problems than it solves. But Iraq's democracy also hasn't failed, which separates it from the myriad 'democratization' projects in other Arab countries.Yes. The costs of our operations in Iraq has been heavy -- more than 2,000 dead -- but the payoff could be world-changing. That possibility too is exciting.
Iraq has taken a first, tiny step -- but a decisive and indispensable one. It's possible that the Iraqi constitution will be seen one day in the same positive light as the US or German constitutions. One should remember Tuesday's date, because the experiment might just succeed. And if it does, possibilities for the rest of the Middle East could be endless.
Read him here.
Salaam at The Mespotamian is certainly excited. He writes:
[T]he progress towards democracy is unstoppable and inexorable and total victory is in sight.He then explains how the recent terror attack on the Palestine Hotel is a reflection of insurgent weakness.
The enemy is now counting on one and only one forlorn hope, and that is to wear down the resolve of the American and western people, with the help of the MSM, which explains the latest explosions near the Meridien/Palestine hotel, a show staged entirely for the benefit of the MSM cameras that obliged and did their part admirably. The terrorist game is at least 90% TV and Internet phenomenon, deprive them of these and you will deal them a blow far more fatal than any kind of military action. The terrorists know very well that the Iraqi people are not going to give up or submit; therefore their hopes are pinned on influencing the peoples of the free world, encouraged by reports in the MSM. In any case it is becoming clear that their senseless crimes are not going to help them achieve anything, and it seems that they don’t even have any clear ideas or objectives to speak of apart from destruction and hate.He's right. Attacks on foreign journalists are a tacit admission that other strategies are increasingly non-productive and that the "insurgents" only hope is to demoralize the American public.
Read him here.
And there's this report from the Guardian:
'We don't need al-Qaida'Read it here.
Abu Theeb is the leader of a band of Sunni insurgents that preys on US targets north of Baghdad. Last week he openly defied al-Qaida in Iraq by actively supporting the referendum. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad spent five days with him - and uncovered evidence of a growing split in the insurgency
This is significant not only because it confirms reports that the jihadist radicals are being marginalized within Iraq, but because it appeared in the Guardian, a staunchly anti-Bush, anti-war organ. Slowly but surely the western media are beginning to awake to the fact that something good and potentially earth-shaking is going on in Iraq.
Meanwhile in the rest of the "hood." The Lebanese government has begun to assert itself to control its borders. AP reports:
Lebanese authorities dispatched commandos and tanks Wednesday to a pro-Syrian Palestinian militant base and sent hundreds more soldiers to a second camp in an apparent crackdown on groups accused of smuggling weapons from Syria.Read it here.
This, as the article notes, poses a danger of retaliation from the Palestinian militants in southern Lebanon, but it is an essential step toward the assertion of national sovereignth. It is good to see that the Lebanese government has sufficient confidence to take that step.
And then there's this remarkable report:
Read it here.
DAMASCUS, 28 October 2005 — Syria issued an appeal yesterday for dialogue with the United States as the UN Security Council mulled a strong response to its implication by a UN inquiry into former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Hariri’s murder.
“It’s time for dialogue, which must take precedence over the use of force,” said an editorial in the official daily Al-Thawra.
“The language of pressure and threats used by US President George Bush and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are closing off the avenues for dialogue even though there are many points on which agreement is possible,” said the commentary, signed by editor Faisal Al-Sayegh, who is considered close to the corridors of power. “This is not the time for the use of force, which has proved a failure in other parts of the world but the time for dialogue... because Syrians and Americans have a lot in common and the American people are a friendly people.”
Syria is blinking fast and furiously. This is the sort of thing that Musharbash was referring to when he stated that the ramifications of what is happening in Iraq represented endless opportunities for progress throughout the Middle East. Real change is taking place in Lebanon and now in Syria. A new Middle East is being born in Baghdad and Beirut and Damascus, and the attending physician and midwife are named "Dubya" and "Condi."